What happens when you load your guitar and family into a motor home and spend a year driving across Canada? According to Jeremy Benjamin, the answer is “a whole lot of worship and ministry.”
Benjamin spent seven months on the road with his family and another seven touring on weekends after their return home. As he traveled from Charlottetown, P.E.I., to Chilliwack, B.C., Benjamin stopped at Christian Reformed churches and Christian schools to bring a message of togetherness, raise support for local and international causes, reignite worship, and remind people that they belong — body and soul — to God.
The tour was named “I Am Not My Own” and was based on Benjamin’s song about Heidelberg Catechism question and answer 1. This question asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”
The answer begins, “That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The essential and comforting truth found in this nugget of Reformed faith struck home to Benjamin a few years ago when he was going through a difficult time, and it inspired him to bring the same message of comfort to Christians across Canada.
To help make this dream a reality, Benjamin gained the support of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and World Renew. At each stop, Benjamin and his family would lead people in worship, record their voices singing “I Am Not My Own,” and raise funds for World Renew’s work in Nigeria as well as for a local cause of the host congregation’s choosing.
“In total, the tour had 155 events, and because of matching funds from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, it raised $506,000 for ministry,” said Darren Roorda, Canadian Ministries director of the CRCNA.
But these numbers tell only part of the story. Benjamin, who was joined on the tour by his wife, Lara Schat-Zeyl, and his two children, said that the people they met, the causes they learned about, and the communities that welcomed them have left a lasting impact.
“One highlight for me was Harold’s drumming in Edmonton,” Benjamin said. He explained that several local churches joined together to host the Edmonton, Alta., concert. They selected the Edmonton Native Healing Centre as the local cause for concert revenues. Harold Roscher, director of the Healing Centre, came to a pre-concert event and left a lasting impression on Benjamin.
“Harold opened the more formal part of the night by asking all of us to give our names and where we were from while simultaneously keeping a beat on the drum he provided. Later, he explained that he does this in groups because drumming while introducing themselves in this way makes everyone feel awkward . . . and thus keeps everyone on equal footing,” Schat-Zeyl explained.
“I will not quickly forget his words and the depth and truth they both reflect and reveal. Would that we would all pick up our crosses, shoulder one another’s burdens, and carry our own drums. What a constant visual and kinesthetic reminder that would be to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God . . . and with our neighbors.”
This was just one of many such highlights, Benjamin said. From witnessing to seafarers in Montreal, Que., to flying in a bush plane in Emo, Ont., the family were blessed and provided a blessing to Canadian communities across the country.
The tour officially wrapped up with a time of praise, prayer, and thanksgiving at the CRCNA offices in Burlington, Ont., Sept. 10. Then, on Oct. 4, Benjamin released his new album, Wonderlove, which includes the nearly 20,000 voices he recorded singing his song“I Am Not My Own” during the tour. It also includes the voice of Terver Marc Akindigh, a Nigerian who was so inspired by Benjamin and the work of World Renew in Nigeria, that he made his own cover of the song.
The album is available for purchase and online streaming. Benjamin is also sharing the music of Wonderlove live, by doing a whirlwind second tour of Canadian sites.
“We wanted to go back to some of the places that were so gracious in hosting us in the past year and give them a few stories from the tour,” said Benjamin about this new tour. “It is our way of saying thank-you and of worshiping with them one more time.”
Tour dates and details are available at https://www.jeremybenjaminmusic.com/